Gujarat Titans’ Recent Form
Gujarat Titans lost a game at last!
But perhaps that’s not surprising. They’d won quite a few games from almost impossible positions before going down in this one so they were due a loss.
Defending just 143 against Punjab, they had a bad day with the bat to get to a below par score and with Punjab showing proper aggression in the chase for the first time in a while, Gujarat ended up losing comfortably.
But what was interesting wasn’t so much the manner of the defeat as the thinking behind wanting to bat first.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with assessing conditions on the day and deciding that on this particular occasion it’s best to bat first.
But what was curious was that Titans’ skipper Hardik Pandya said at the toss that he wanted to bat as practice for bigger games ahead.
Surely the important thing for them is that they carry on winning matches, close in on a Top 2 finish and then worry about batting first when the situation arises, which it will at some stage.
Again, we’re not saying that they would have won if they’d chased because we’ll never know what would have happened if they’d fielded first here.
What we’re saying is that it’s strange thinking that they didn’t want to give themselves the best chance of winning the match on the day rather than worrying about the long-term.
It may come back to bite them.
For what it’s worth, Sai Sudharsan played a good knock with 65 off 50 and Rashid Khan was his usual economical self in conceding just 21 off for overs, albeit without taking a wicket.
Let’s wait and see if they bounce back from this or if it’s a turning point in their campaign.
Gujarat are one of the sides who make less changes from game to game so it would be a surprise if they made any changes ahead of this one in terms of the XI who take to the field.
But the decision to play Sudharsan at three with Pandya at four, looks a good one.
It’s worth remembering that at Mumbai Pandya often batted at five or six, so number three looks a place too high for him.
Player to Watch: Rashid Khan
It’s been quite an uncharacteristic tournament for Rashid Khan so far.
His economy rate has been excellent as usual at below seven an over but nine wickets in 10 matches is below his usual standard in terms of taking wickets.
That said, he’s also made some contributions with the bat to get his side home in a couple of matches, which hasn’t always happened with him in the IPL over the years.
So it’s nice for him and the Titans that he’s been making some contributions with bat as well as ball.
But despite being quite a few wickets behind Mohammed Shami (he has nine, Shami has 15), he’s still the 3.6 favourite to be their top bowler, and is also 13.0 to be man-of-the-match in this match.
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Gujarat’s Likely XI
Gill, Saha, Sudharsan, Pandya, Miller, Tewatia, Khan, Sangwan, Ferguson, Joseph, Shami.
Mumbai Indians’ Recent Form
Whatever happens from hereon, Mumbai won’t be the first ever side to finish an IPL season with zero wins!
Their victory came at the ninth time of asking and interestingly, came against one of the better sides in the tournament: Rajasthan.
They chased 159 pretty comfortably after a good bowling performance where Riley Meredith was particularly impressive with 2-24. Their season may have turned out differently if they’d played him more a bit earlier.
Sky Yadav was his usual reliable self in the chase to get 51 off 39 and the man-of-the-match award.
As we said here in this assessment of Mumbai’s failure a couple of weeks ago, it’s certainly not his fault that they’re in the position that they’re in.
Speaking of team changes, this was the first match in a while where they played middle-order smashers Daniel Sams and Tim David.
Sams was good with the ball in taking 1-32 and hit the first ball he faced for six to seal the deal and win the match.
But David played his part, too.
His 20 off nine meant there was no last over drama that could have gone either way and maybe Mumbai will look back at this season and wonder if they shouldn’t have played Sams and David a bit more.
Youngster Dewald Brevis missed out in the last match and may have to wait for his next chance but there’s no doubt we’ll see plenty more from him in future IPL seasons.
Player to Watch: Daniel Sams
Sams has been doing the business with the ball for the Sydney Thunder on a consistent basis in the Big Bash League in the last few seasons, including being the top wicket-taker in the BBL in the 2019-20 season.
And over the last two years, he’s also played some important knocks with the bat.
That is after all why Mumbai paid the big bucks to get him on board for 2022.
But it’s been an up and down season for him.
He was part of the team that lost all those early matches and he’ll look back at his performances and feel he could have done a bit better.
Yes, he’s got seven wickets in six games which is pretty good but an economy rate of 10.47 is far from good.
But since being recalled he’s improved with the ball and if he can start contributing with the bat as well may become a really important all-rounder for them in the next few years, especially seeing as Kieron Pollard seems to be on the way down.
Betway make it 17.0 that he wins his first-ever IPL man of the match award here.
Mumbai’s Likely XI
Sharma, Kishan, Sky Yadav, Varma, Pollard, David, Sams, Shokeen, Kartikeya, Bumrah, Meredith.
Venue & conditions
It’s been almost a week since we were at Brabourne for an IPL game.
The last time we were here, Gujarat chased 171 against RCB so the Titans will have good memories of this ground.
But despite its reputation as a very high-scoring ground, the two matches before that were very low-scoring ones.
This is where Punjab got just 115 a couple of weeks ago (easily chased by Delhi) and also where RCB were all out for 68.
But as hinted, there were some big scores posted here at Brabourne before that with Rajasthan getting just over 200 and Lucknow falling one run short of getting 200 when they batted first.
Both were won by the team having first use of the wicket.
It makes predicting a par score tricky but unlike some of the other grounds used so far this IPL, batting first isn’t necessarily a disadvantage here.